You’ve heard it. The memorable line of many movies is “follow your heart,” or, “go ahead, do what seems right to you, what is most fulfilling to you.” Our culture is full of this worldview, and it is no surprise. For the basic worldview of the fallen, sinful mind is just this: “I can take of this fruit that God has made, and eat of it when I want, how I want, where I want. The serpent is right. God doesn’t know what’s best for me. He is just holding me back.”
Of course the “follow your heart” worldview is correct – it will take you somewhere. It’s just not the place you want to be for the rest of eternity! (Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise for following their heart, after all) The Bible is plain about the danger of the worldview of trusting your heart. Isaiah 47:10 – “For you have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, ‘No one sees me’; Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’ Jeremiah 17:5 – Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. None of us wants to face that curse of God. We don’t want our family, friends, or acquantances to suffer under this curse. So why would we advise one another to “follow your heart”? Good Christian friends will be more discerning in the Biblical counsel that we give.
As we approach the holiday season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, we are going to be pulled again and again in the direction of the “follow your heart” worldview. Enjoy your vacation. Buy that present for your kids and grandkids. Drink that holiday beverage. Gorge on another piece of pie/sweet treat. Follow your heart. You deserve it. You worked hard all year, it’s time for Santa to reward you. And if he didn’t, just return your gifts to get what you really deserve/want.
This worldview is easy to spot this time of year. However, the Scriptures quoted above prove that it is off limits for Christians at any time of year. Several of the articles in this issue interact, in their own way, with the “follow your heart” perspective. When we try to “follow our heart” we end up corrupting worship. Perhaps it is through depending on images or emotion-laden styles of worship and preaching. Many manger scenes and Christmas pageants demonstrate this desire to create a religion after our own heart’s desires and sappy sentiments. Also, when we try to “follow our heart” covenant worship will often be boring and unsatisfying. We are not interested in meeting God. We come to church to meet others who will feed our desires, and make us feel better. When that doesn’t happen the way we want, some people drop out all together. The article on “Church Attendance” adresses this problem.
Christians who get in the habit of “following their heart” will not always run away from the church. Many will remain regular attenders and also may be very involved in the life of the church. Yet their minds will become warped, and they will fall prey to false teachings easily. This happened last century in our churches so our forefathers bravely stayed out of a church merger, as revealed in “So, What is the Church Anyway?” We still struggle with following God’s heart today, even on issues like God’s return at the End Time. Be sure to meditate on the article which gives a very helpful and necessary correction to the false teaching of the “Left Behind” variety.
So, whenever people are chatting with family and friends at our holiday gatherings, whenever people are trying to give advice to those in confusion, let’s stop copying the ungodly who say “follow your heart.” Instead, let’s get busy following a different heart. The Christian worldview is that of King David, who is described as a man after God’s own heart. Let us follow God’s heart and set our mind on things above, where Christ is seated in glory. Proverbs 28:26 – He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.
Rev. Kyle A. Sorensen, Manitowoc, Wisconsin